I'm toying with the idea of writing stories about the influence of World War II on Russia. The target audience are ordinary Americans, hence it makes sense to have a viewpoint character, who is an American, who somehow got to Russia and witnesses the Russian side of the war.

What is a realistic scenario of an American ending up on the battlefield with the Russians (apart from the one below) ?

Possible scenario

An American specialist travels to Russia to set up a piece of equipment, which the USSR got from the US in scope of lend-lease agreement. Let's say he travels to Leningrad and soon after his arrival, the Germans encircle the city, so he can't come back in a normal way.

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    $\begingroup$ A fictional American correspondent, who doesn't fight but lives on the frontline? That would allow him to be present at many important events without stretching credibility ... $\endgroup$ – o.m. Mar 22 '16 at 6:52
  • $\begingroup$ Most American officers at the time viewed the Soviet Union as at least a rival (not as an ally more of an "enemy of my enemy"). Some (such as Gen. Patton) viewed the Soviet Union as a greater long-term threat than Germany. $\endgroup$ – Jim2B Mar 22 '16 at 15:42
  • $\begingroup$ "At the time"? I think you won't have enough fingers to count just how many times US/NATO brass hysterically cried about Russia being "existential treat" to them in the last year. $\endgroup$ – Oleg V. Volkov Mar 23 '16 at 12:57

Well, there is a real-life prototype for you, I guess: Joseph Beyrle, a US paratrooper. While I won't list all of his deeds, the story of him getting to fight alongside Soviets was him getting captured by Germans and eventually escaping his captors, running away from them towards the Soviets and, upon meeting up with them he politely asked for a chance to fight alongside the Soviet unit he met until he reaches Berlin. You should check his full biography as it is filled with amazing stuff.


Just one American? Oh goodness me, there are so many options...

  • As you said: specialist sent over to deliver equipment through Lend-Lease, like aircraft and tanks. He could also be educating people in how to use the stuff, meaning you have an excellent reason to place him in control of advanced instruments of war. He would have to be a specialist since he would be teaching people that in turn would educate the grunts.
  • As @o.m. said: correspondent gets caught up in many important events.
  • The ambassador and other diplomats, aides and support staff — like guards — for the diplomatic mission at the Spaso House.
  • Clueless socialist/communist ideologist that travelled to the Soviet Union to see socialism up close, working at a Sovkhoz.
  • Military intelligence agent keeping an eye on Soviet capabilities, since the US figured that once Germany was defeated, the Soviet Union would be a major power in the world. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Soviet_Union%E2%80%93United_States_relations
  • Volunteer.
  • Mercenary.
  • Thrill seeker.
  • $\begingroup$ Comments are not for extended discussion; this conversation has been moved to chat. $\endgroup$ – Serban Tanasa Mar 24 '16 at 13:22

A good starting point might be to read The Soviet Economy and the Red Army, 1930-1945 by Walter S. Dunn Jr.. In this book it describes how American companies and their personnel helped build Soviet Industry just prior to World War Two as wells as a description of the Lend lease program carried out thru out the war. Also from its bibliography you will be able to get specific names of American companies/personnel from which you can do further research.

  • $\begingroup$ Unfortunately, this does not meet our standards of providing an answer to the question, and as such is likely to be deleted. I recommend that you review Are answers solely referencing novels/movies/etc. okay? for more discussion on this. $\endgroup$ – a CVn Mar 22 '16 at 16:11
  • $\begingroup$ @MichaelKjörling the first answer in that link shows this is a fair answer, referring to a reference book (not a novel) and containing extra information about the Lend Lease program. $\endgroup$ – gbjbaanb Mar 23 '16 at 8:50
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    $\begingroup$ @gbjbaanb Did you review the linked meta question? An answer must answer the question. Telling someone where they can find additional information is a good part of an answer, but it cannot be the only information in the answer. If removing the references to "The Societ Economy and the Red Army, 1930-1945", in what way does this actually answer the question? $\endgroup$ – a CVn Mar 23 '16 at 9:31

The American soldier would have seen many horrible things in the Soviet Union, human rights violations, prison camps with slave laborers, and an extreme lack to fulfil even the most basic human needs.

Americans are very practical and efficient, so it is likely he would have perceived the system as extremely wasteful (see below for a book recommendation). He would also have been shocked by the presence of party and NKVD officials in the military hierarchy, and by the power they were wielding over regular soldiers and officers.

He would have seen soldiers sent to the front without weapons, driven forward by by other soldiers and machine gunned down by the Germans without any chance, corpses piling up till they could be used as shields.

There is a chance he would have ended up in the GULag, the Soviet system of concentration camps himself. Many (all?) Red Army soldiers who were captured ended up in these camps. It is not very likely that the NKVD would have permitted Americans to mingle with Soviets.

During the great depression before WW2, many Americans were lured to the Soviet Union as workers, and most of them ended up in camps, many were even murdered.

One book that could give you some inspiration and a lot of information on real life conditions at that time is http://www.amazon.com/The-Forsaken-American-Tragedy-Stalins/dp/0143115421 I can recommend this book highly. It also gives a very good idea how Americans were recruited, this might give you some inspiration.

Another book I recommend is "An American Engineer in Stalin's Russia", more focused on the life of one engineer who had contacts all the way up to Stalin(which probably saved his life).

Here is an article with further links: https://stevehollier.wordpress.com/2011/03/01/the-tragic-story-of-the-50000-british-and-american-soldiers-who-disappeared-into-the-soviet-gulag-never-to-return/

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    $\begingroup$ The question was "How does he end up there?", it was not "What happens after he ends up there?". $\endgroup$ – MichaelK Mar 23 '16 at 8:39
  • $\begingroup$ Hi Oleg, is that all you can master? Maybe read the books and links I have provided and comment on the content? $\endgroup$ – redarmy Mar 23 '16 at 22:48
  • $\begingroup$ @Michael The question how he ended up there is very closely linked to the question 'what kind of regime did he end up in'. If you read the provided references, you'll see that the soviet union was not a country that would just invite a cool GI over to join the fight. They did not even allow U.S. bombers to refuel on there, which could have doubled the bombing efficiency. Soviet POWs went to camps because they were suspected of western influence. Also, the books I mentioned provide ample evidence how a few thousands Americans actually 'ended up there', which was the question of the OP. $\endgroup$ – redarmy Mar 23 '16 at 22:53

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